Friday, October 17, 2014

High Five for Friday

Today I'm linking up with Lauren and Jennie to share some of my favorite stuff from the past week.

1) Friday I got to wear a new scarf that I made!

2) Friday night Grant spent the night with his Gramma & Grandpa so Husband & I could go to the Hurricanes home opener. We were very excited! Then they lost. But we haven't had a date night in a while so it was nice to just spend some time together.


3) We practice a lot at home with Grant helping him learn to write. He's gotten so good at writing his first name (I can't believe it's not all over our walls yet because he loves to write it!). Now we're working on his full name and he's even more excited about that!
He was so proud of himself!
4) After consulting with a friend who told me how to make real chicken & dumplings, I tried it out on Sunday (since I had a chicken in my freezer). It turned out great! Seriously, I've been eating it for lunch all week. The best part of making it, though, was my helper. Grant begged to help me. So when it came time, he was the official adder of the dumplings (and stir-er...very important jobs). 

5) Our State Fair started this week. Which I sort of dread since I have to work out there. BUT this will be our last fair of the year. I am looking forward to taking Grant, though. As much as I don't enjoy it when I'm working out there, it's much more fun when we get to watch Grant enjoying himself!
Throwback to my first year working at the fair...back
when I still got excited about it!
Happy Friday everyone!
Have a great weekend!
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Pretty Rock

I try to be very patient with Grant. I try to make myself pause and realize that, at 4 years old, he sees everything much differently than I do. When he points to something that I might not give a second look to and calls it beautiful - whatever it is - I try to make my adult mind look at it a little different. Adulthood ruins a lot of things that parenthood has the chance to kind of bring back, right? When Grant and I go for walks and he calls it our adventure and pretends things, it reminds of playing in the woods behind my parent's house and all the fun we had in our "forts" back there. I try to re-appreciate things like that because I can see how amazed Grant is by the things he's learning and discovering.

I think I maybe need to work a little harder on that sometimes.

Sunday, Grant and I were getting ready to run some errands. I was getting him in his car seat when he peaked in the cup holder and pulled something out. He held his hand out to me and saw this off-white/yellow colored hard thing in his hand. Paying zero attention to what had to have been a look of pride on his face, my adult mind saw an old piece of string cheese (a snack he occasionally has in the car). I grabbed it, threw it over my shoulder and asked him to get in his seat. He started sobbing. HARD. And then wailing so loud that Husband came out of the house at a sprint thinking that I had to have shut Grant's hand in the door or something.

He was sobbing "It was a pretty rock! It was my pretty rock and I wanted to keep it!" So...not old string cheese. I had forgotten that my mother-in-law had had my car seat Friday & Saturday while Grant spent the night with them. He told us that he picked up the rock while they were at a store and he wanted to keep it. All this while I'm crawling around on the ground looking for the rock. Husband is asking what color it is, I told him a dirty off white. Grant is wailing "Its orange! Its my pretty orange rock." It was honestly heartbreaking, he was so upset.

But Husband saved the day. After a 10-15 minute search of the area where it could have gone over my shoulder, Husband found the rock and Grant's little teary face lit up. And, to be fair, it was kind of orange. He was happy after that and was in the car seat in no time ready to head to Target. Husband was explaining to him that it was an accident and I was apologizing like crazy. Grant said to me "It was an accident, Mama. I'm not mad at you. I love you." Maybe that should have made me feel better but I felt even more horrible after that. He only mentioned it one other time that day and not since then (which is odd because the he is The Boy Who Never Forgets). We ended up having a really great evening together but I had major guilt hanging over me.

The whole time we were looking for the rock, all I could think of was this saying I've seen from time to time:

I know it's not exactly like what happened with Grant, but it was on repeat in my head and there's a good message there. I definitely learned a lesson and I'm going to work harder on my patience.

Monday, October 13, 2014

New Recipe: Baked Three Cheese Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

This is the last of my new recipes from last week. I've always been intrigued by gnocchi and a little intimidated by it. Plus, most of the gnocchi dishes I've seen have either been served with a tomato based sauce (doesn't excite me) or a pesto (can't stand pesto). When I found this recipe for Baked Three Cheese Gnocchi Mac & Cheese it seemed very first-time-gnocchi-cooker-and-eater friendly. 

I was right! I love that the cheeses in it aren't crazy specialty cheeses, that always makes me more likely to make something. I got this dish ready to go the night before so I could just pop it in the oven when I got home and it could bake while Husband grilled some pork tenderloin and my beans cooked. We ate it as a side dish but I'm thinking it could totally hold it's own as a main dish.

Looking at this picture makes me sad because I know there
are no more leftovers in my fridge. (Also, I doubled the recipe...
that's why it's in the 9x13 casserole dish.)
Baked Three Cheese Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Potato Gnocchi (found in the pasta aisle)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley (or chopped fresh, if you want)
Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray your casserole dish with cooking spray (If you're not doubling the above recipe, like I did, an 8x8 casserole dish should work. If doubling, use a 9x13 dish.) 
  2. Cook your gnocchi according to the package directions. Drain and transfer to your casserole dish. 
  3. Original recipe says to do this in a skillet but I used a sauce pan. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter then add your garlic and onion powder. Let that cook a few minutes to soften your garlic then add the flour and whisk until it's bubbly.
  4. Add the milk, salt, and pepper. Stir until its thickened (2-3 minutes?).
  5. Add the cheddar, mozzarella, and 1/3 cup Parmesan and remove from the heat. Continue to whisk until the cheese is melted. 
  6. Pour the cheese sauce over the gnocchi (you may have to mix it some). Top with the remaining Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and sprinkle with parsley. 
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let stand a few minutes before serving...try not to attack the casserole pan with your fork while try to be patient.
Recipe Source: Living Better Together


Notes/Suggestions:
  • Like I said, I love that this recipe uses "normal" cheeses. It's what made me pick it. I did shred the cheddar cheese & Parmesan cheese myself (I used a sharp white cheddar and fresh Parmesan) but my mozzarella was the pre-shredded in the bag kind. 
  • I love leftovers, that's why I doubled this. It reheated pretty well, a little greasy but that's normal with mac & cheese.
  • Grant didn't want to try this, he said "I don't like it". I ended up telling him that it was mac & cheese with special noodles (Is that a lie? I'm not sure). He ended up trying it and ate at least half of what I put on his plate and told me "Mmmm. That is good. Mama. You...are the best cooker." I think he got a popsicle that night.
  • I served this with THIS pork tenderloin recipe and some green beans (Grant's current favorite vegetable - he had two huge helpings that night). Awesome flavor and you can grill it or cook it in the oven (we've always grilled it but I like that the oven can be my back-up plan in case of rain).
Enjoy!

Friday, October 10, 2014

High Five for Friday

Today I'm linking up with Lauren and Jennie to share some of my favorite stuff from the past week.

1) Saturday we were supposed to go to Fireman's Day to watch a parade of firetrucks and have some fun. But Grant woke up sick. So we had a kind of lazy Saturday and then kicked off a good Sunday with Grant's current favorite breakfast: a ham & cheese omelet.
He ate that whole thing and then asked for applesauce.
2) On Sunday we worked out a "chore chart" for Grant and I started teaching him how to do a few things. He's learning to use the computer and he has a leappad, so he's going to start earning his time on that stuff with some simple chores. We started with him learning to fold his laundry (and at the moment he finds this as fun as playing computer games!).

3) I love when I have all the ingredients on hand to make myself a yummy treat. More often than not when I bake, its for other people. But over the weekend I really wanted a scone with my coffee so I made some maple oat scones (with pecans). They hit the spot!


4) I had a really yummy line-up for dinner this week. This Chicken & Dumplings Casserole was probably my favorite this week (followed by the three cheese baked gnocchi that I'll post about next week)!


5) Mid-week I took a break from cooking so we could try a new BBQ place ("new" meaning we've never been there). I have an art tote thing for Grant that pretty much stays in my bag. He loves to color when we go out to eat. Wednesday while we waited, he got in some practice writing his name. He's getting so good at it! And I love how proud of himself he gets :)


Grant is really excited that today is Friday because he's heading to Grandma & Grandpa's for a sleepover so Mama & Daddy can go to the Hurricanes home opener tonight! 
Happy Friday everyone!
Have a great weekend!
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Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Recipe: Million Dollar Spaghetti

Comfort Food Week continues! Much like Monday night's Chicken & Dumplings Casserole, I wasn't thinking "healthy" when I picked this meal...I was thinking "How much of that can I cram in my face before I hate myself?" 

Spaghetti is pretty basic, right? I mean, who doesn't love spaghetti? 

Me. 

I don't love it. I eat it, I don't hate it or anything. But it's not one of those meals that makes me excited to sit down to the dinner table. But I live with two spaghetti lovers so I make spaghetti (Grant did a serious happy dance in the kitchen when he found me making spaghetti). But that's why I love recipes like this Million Dollar Spaghetti. We can all get excited about it. It's sort of like deconstructed lasagna. Spaghetti casserole. Fancy spaghetti. Spaghetti that got dressed up for a really important job interview. Whatever. It was loved in my house.



Million Dollar Spaghetti
(this is the recipe as I found it; I'll add my notes, as usual, at the end)


Look at those layers...and the cheesy goodness.
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 can of spaghetti sauce (I used Hunts)
  • 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 lb. cottage cheese (I prefer small curd, not low-fat)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 8 ounces of spaghetti noodles
  • 1 bag of cheddar cheese
Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350. Boil your noodles according to the package directions (if you haven't already skipped ahead and done this.
  2. While your noodles boil, mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, and cottage cheese. Make sure they are mixed well.
  3. Cook your ground beef, drain it, add your can of spaghetti sauce to it.
  4. Now for layering: put a few slices of your stick of butter on the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish; on top of that layer half your noodles; pour the cream cheese mixture (all of it) on top of the noodles and spread it around so it's even; add the rest of your noodles on top of that and put a few more slices of butter on top of those noodles; pour your meat sauce on the top of all that and spread it around so it's even. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. When it's baked for 30 minutes, add your cheese to the top. The whole bag...there's really no point in cutting calories now. Bake for 15 more minutes or until it's a little brown on top.
  6. Unless you're starving, I'd let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving (use that time, like I did, to pop some frozen garlic bread in the oven - its Fall, your body needs the extra carbs).
Recipe Source: being grown up


Notes/Suggestions:
  • I omitted the butter entirely from this dish. I guess that makes the above recipe a bit of a lie. I sprayed my pan with non-stick cooking spray and everywhere where it says to put slices of butter...I did not. I've never used butter in spaghetti and it just seemed unnecessary here. I didn't miss it.
  • I felt like the cream cheese/sour cream/cottage cheese mixture was a large amount for only 8 ounces of noodles. I cooked a whole 16 ounce package and ended up using almost all of it.
  • If - like me - you go with extra noodles, you'll want to up your sauce to. My meat sauce had about 1 1/2 cans of sauce and I ended up heating the extra 1/2 can for us to spoon on top if needed (Husband always likes extra sauce).
  • I added some parmesan cheese to my cream cheese mixture and I used and italian cheese blend on top in place of cheddar. It was really good but cheddar would have been too.
  • BIG hit in my house! Husband had two servings and Grant couldn't get his into his face fast enough. At one point Grant leaned back, looked down and rubbed his stomach saying "Mmm mmmm. This is good. This is yummy in my tummy."
Enjoy!
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